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Esther R. Mott told us in her Subject: Generalfeldmarschall Milch about her colleague who, ...insists that many years ago he read that Goring (and Speer's) no. 1 man, Generalfeldmarschall Milch was actually Jewish but given the status of "honorary aryan," and she asked: He also insists that he wasn't even in the mischling category - can this be so? ... Have any H-Holocaust subscribers heard or read anything about this, and if so, please provide the citations if possible. I'll address the second part of her request. German Field Marshal Erhard Milch's supposed Jewish provenance has been gossiped, spoken and written about by his friends and by his enemies. This accusation has been, we are told, investigated by Milch himself and by others, apparently even by Hermann Goering, as early as 1933. It has been reappearing in different versions, not always consistent with each other, in various books and accounts. There are supposed to be relevant documents, authentic or faked, such as a confession of Anton Milch, that he was not Erhard's father, that in fact he fathered no children of Klara, his wife, and the letter of his mother confirming this. David Irving (yes, t h a t David Irving) in his "The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe; The Life of Field Marshal Erhard Milch," Little, Brown and Company, Boston - Toronto 1973, p. 328-329, writes: Milch's father was unquestionably Aryan; but that was not all, for he was not Anton Milch, and he was not a man whom the Church would ever has accepted as Klara Vetter's husband. Soon Milch had in his hand a document which dispelled any last doubts that might have lingered in his mind, a letter his mother had written six months before (in March 1933) to her son-in-law, whose career had also been threatened by the rumours. Four pages long, the letter responded to his appeal that she should set out in writing the truth about her marriage: briefly summarized, it was that her parents had decided that she should marry an apparently orphaned naval apothecary, Anton Milch; she however was consumed with illicit love for another man, who wanted to marry her - a union which would have been disallowed by the Church but not illegal in those days. Her mother and father had insisted that the marriage to Anton, humble and unloved, should go ahead. Her unhappiness had changed to horror when she learned by chance that Anton's mother was in fact still alive, but incurably insane in an asylum; Klara vowed that she would never bear his children. In distraction, Anton had pleaded with her and out of pity she consented to the marriage on condition that all their children should be by her heart's true desire, the man whom Goering's investigation had identified. Thus the unique combination had come about, to the contentment of all parties. How convenient for them all. But there is more. On 7 October 1933 the then state secretary [Milch] drove up to Kiel for one last meeting with Anton Milch, still alive but with not many months to live. A more poignant occasion can scarcely be imagined. Anton dictated to him a two-page statement, admitting everything Erhard had now found out. He signed the document at its foot. He had no children of his own and before he dies he disinherited the four who had been borne to him by his wife. Thus the matter was finally settled. These documents were, we read, presented to Hitler, and Irving says that Milch recorded that fact in his Diary on Nov. 1, 1933: Afternoon: Goering has spoken with Hitler, von Blomberg and Hess about my parentage. A few hours later Milch "added the telling phrase," Everything in order. Irving (op. cit. pp. 303-304) quotes the following exchange between Milch and the American prosecutor Jackson (from the printed record of International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 8 March, 1946, vol. IX, p. 63): Jackson: ... Didn't you know that the decrees which excluded Jews and half-Jews from positions were issued by Goering? Milch: No, I did not. As far as I know the decrees were issued by the Ministry of the Interior, the department concerned with that. Jackson: Uh, as a matter of fact did you not have to take certain proceedings to avoid the effects of those decrees yourself? Milch, writes Irving, paused for several seconds, and then answered: Milch: No. I know what you are referring to. That was a matter that was cleared up long before. Jackson: How long before that was it cleared? Milch: As far as I know, in 1933. Jackson: 1933 - right after the Nazis came to power! Milch: That's right. Jackson: And that time Goering had you - so we'll have no misunderstanding about this - Goering had you made what's called a full Aryan? Is that right? Milch: I don't believe so - not that I was 'made one' by him. I w a s one already. Jackson: Well, he had it established, let us say. Milch: He was of great assistance in clarifying what was very obscure to me. Jackson: That is, your mother's husband was a Jew. Is that correct? Milch: That is not what I said. Jackson: You had to demonstrate lack of ancestry through any Jewish source. Is that correct? Milch: Jawohl - same as anybody else. Jackson: ... and in your case it involved the ... your father, your "alleged" father. Is that correct? Milch: Jawohl. Irving explicates this story further in his "Goering: A Biography," William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1989, pp. 131-132. Milch was shocked when Goering told him in August 1933 that Theo Croneiss, an SA Oberfuehrer and once upon a time a vanguished business rival of Milch and his "life-long enemy", kept a dossier on him and was spreading the news that Anton Milch was a Jew. Milch investigated and in October, when he met Goering again, he ... handed him a letter written by his mother, establishing beyond doubt that his biological father was not Anton Milch, but in fact her own uncle. Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr. in his "Men of the Luftwaffe," Presidio, 1988, p. 6, asserts flatly that Anton Milch was a Jew, and that one of Erhard's brothers became a Jew. On pp. 9-10 he writes that although Goering did not share Hitler's prejudice, and used to say I am the one to determine who in the Luftwaffe is a Jew and who is not! nevertheless Milch's background, ... could not be ignored entirely, so Goering invented an elaborate cover story for his new deputy. An "investigation" revealed that Milch's mother had carried on an adulterous affair with Baron Hermann von Bier, a minor aristocrat, for years. Frau Milch, a pure-blood "Aryan," signed an official document to this effect, and Erhard's birth certificate was reissued with von Bier listed as his father. Goering then closed the file, strongly forbidding any further investigation of Milch's racial background. Robert S. Wistrich, Professor of Jewish Studies at University College London and holder of the Neuberger Chair of Modern European history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, on the other hand, writes equally categorically of Erhard Milch in his widely acclaimed "Who's Who in Nazi Germany," Routledge, London and New York, 1995 ed., p. 171: His half-Jewish origin (his mother was a Jewess) did not prevent his rapid promotion, since Goering arranged for his spurious 'Aryanization' by persuading his mother to sign a legal document that he was not her child. Lesser luminaries, such as James Taylor and Warren Shaw also have no doubt ("The Third Reich Almanac," World Almanac An Imprint of Pharos Books A Scripps Howard Company, New York, 1987, p. 214) that Milch's father was Jewish, but he was "Aryanized by a statement from his mother that another man has fathered him. Similarly Louis L. Snyder, Professor Emeritus of History at both City College and City University in New York City, in his "Encyclopedia of the Third Reich," Paragon House, New York, 1989 ed., p. 229, asserts that The creation of the Luftwaffe was the achievement of Goering and Milch, who worked well together. There was a complicating factor: Milch's mother was Jewish, ordinarily an impossible situation for an official of the Nazi regime. Goering solved the problem by having Milch's mother sign a legal affidavit stating that Erhard Milch was a bastard son of his father and not a child of her marriage. Milch did not object to this process of Aryanization. This was a standard procedure for Goering, who never took anti-Semitism (q.v.) as seriously as did the Fuehrer. Goering habitually drew non-Aryan officers to the Luftwaffe if he felt them to be of special value. Quot capita, tot sententiae. Take your pick. Milch was undoubtedly a complex, efficient, ambitious and ruthless person, and if I sort out fact from fancy, and find the time and energy, I may write more about him. There is not much doubt that he was "a prime mover in founding the Luftwaffe." Milch was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1947 by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal. The American Commissioner commuted his sentence to 15 years in 1951, and he was given amnesty and released in 1954. He worked as an industrial consultant in Duesseldorf and died in 1972 at Wuppertal Barmen. Tadeusz K. Gierymski